Paris ingnores Lebanon's Saudi-financed arms order

Paris ingnores Lebanon's Saudi-financed arms order
Sat Feb 22, 2014 22:57:34

France has so far ignored a Lebanese Army order of weapons and other military equipment in line with a $3-billion grant pledged by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah in late December following the capture of a high-profile Saudi terrorist by Lebanese forces.

Following the controversial Saudi offer, a Lebanese military delegation held “tough negotiations” with French military authorities, who recently visited Lebanon in order to arrange for the order and delivery of the weapons at the supposed expense of the Saudi government, said a senior Lebanese Army source, cited Saturday in a report by The Daily Star.

“Although Saudi Arabia has informed Lebanon that it can ask for the equipment it needs in order to boost its military capabilities as part of the grant, French officials, without any justification, have not responded to the list of needs submitted by the Army,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

The source, however, refused to divulge the content of the list.

These sources said that Saudi Arabia did not specify the kind of weaponry and military equipment to be delivered to the Lebanese Army, adding that authorities of the oil-rich kingdom said the military would get the arms it deemed necessary and that France would respond to meet these needs.

Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman announced in late December 2013 that Saudi Arabia had granted his nation’s Army with $3 billion in military equipment to be purchased from France.

According to the report, it has been decades since the Lebanese Army has received advanced weaponry. The Saudi grant comes as the military establishment faces mounting security challenges resulting from the foreign-backed insurgency in neighboring Syria.

This is while the persistence of terrorist attacks in Lebanon is proving to be another challenge for the Army. The military establishment is carrying on with its crackdown on terrorist groups and arrested key figures from the Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades in recent weeks.

Hundreds were killed and wounded in a recent spate of bombings which has targeted the Beirut southern suburbs and the Bekaa Valley, where Hezbollah resistance movement enjoys wide support. Most of the bombings were claimed by radical al-Qaeda-linked insurgents based in Syria.

The Lebanese Army is also working to prevent arms smuggling from and to Syria.

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